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Thread: Berlin raid 23/24 March 1944

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    Default Berlin raid 23/24 March 1944

    This is an unusual request and probably a very long shot, but does anyone have access to navigators logbooks for this raid on Berlin?

    In summary the raid was a complete disaster because the wind forecasts were extremely inaccurate; instead of forecast NNWly winds increasing to 45-50 mph on the track across the North Sea, navigators of the wind finding aircraft at the head of the bomber stream were recording wind speeds of up to 130 mph at 18000 ft. At the time it was unheard of to encounter such speeds at this level, and many navigators, disbelieving their calculations transmitted much reduced wind strengths back to their Groups ('The Berlin raids' by Middlebrook). Consequently there was such a wide spread of values that the forecaster at the Central Forecast Office (CFO) was unable to issue revised winds - which only made the scattering of the following bomber stream even greater.

    At CFO the reported winds were plotted on a special diagram that enabled a forecaster to compare them with the original forecast and issue an amendment if necessary. I am writing the story of a wartime CFO assistant, one of whose tasks was plotting these winds. To illustrate what was being done at CFO I am attempting to reconstruct the diagram for this raid - hence my need for logbook information.

    It may be that some squadron ORBs might include some comment, and that too would be helpful.

    If anyone can help I can be contacted through this forum by either email or personal message - or by a response here.
    As I said, it is a long shot, but if anyone can help I'd be very grateful

    Brian

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    Hi Brian
    Not quite what you want but suggest a look at "Men of Air" by Kevin Wilson which has things to say about the winds for this Berlin Raid,and others in the series and the Nuremburg Raid which seems to have suffered similarly.
    Regards
    Dick

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    Thank you for the link Dick.

    I thought of using the Nuremberg raid, but reading Middlebrook's account ('The Nuremberg raid') I felt the wind forecast was not actually that far out - especially given the lack of information on which to base the forecasts and the techniques being used at the time. What was more significant is that the 'wind finding' arrangement totally broke down that night; not only did the 'wind finders' make a right mess of things, but on the ground instead of a single revised wind being issued from HQ Bomber Command for all crews, each Group was issuing a revised wind for its own aircraft - a recipe for disaster. The whole concept of the wind finding system was that all crews would fly on a common forecast.

    But it was not the wind that was the real culprit that night, indeed, other than the initial southward leg the changed wind (to W'ly instead of WNW) would have benefited the aircraft by giving a greater speed across Germany. The real problem was the lack of cloud cover on the long leg across Germany. There is no doubt from Middlebrook's book that the forecasters gave Harris ample warning, but he ignored the advice and chose to go ahead.

    However, having refreshed my memory from 'The Nuremberg raid' I've just realised it gives a NA reference that might help solve my problem (AIR14/540). What I'm after are actual found winds from logbooks; I can then plot these on a diagram similar to that used during the war, and thus show my readers exactly what was done.

    Although both the Berlin and Nuremberg raids were failures, the reasons were different:
    1. The Berlin raid failed through an inaccurate wind forecast
    2. The Nuremberg raid failed because the forecaster's advice was ignored.

    I'll certainly get Kevin Wilson's book - ta.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 2nd December 2007 at 21:56. Reason: Incorrect 'AIR' reference

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    Sorry folks the raid was on 24-25 March 1944 - a senior moment.

    Brian

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